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April 26, 2001

FDA and CFIA Warn Against Consuming Mislabeled Poisonous Plant Called Autumn Monkshood

Washington, DC (SafetyAlerts) - FDA in conjunction with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is warning consumers not to consume a poisonous flowering perennial plant known as Aconitum carmichaelii 'Arendsii', commonly called Autumn Monkshood. Valleybrook Gardens, Ltd., a Canadian nursery located in British Columbia is known to have distributed the plants with the incorrect labels to other nurseries in British Columbia, Washington State and Idaho, but full distribution is not known at this time. The packages were mistakenly labeled with the statement, "All parts of this plant are tasty in soup," instead of indicating that the plant is poisonous.

All parts of this plant are poisonous. Cooking will not detoxify the toxic compounds. The poisonous element is known as aconitine. Symptoms of aconitine poisoning are burning or tingling in the mouth or tongue, tingling in the four limbs, generalized muscular weakness, gastrointestinal distress and cardiovascular complications. Death could occur due to ventricular arrhythmias (irregular heart beat) or direct paralysis of the heart.

The plants are packaged in blue plastic pots, 11 cm x 11 cm (approximately 4Ѕ inches x 4Ѕ inches). The pots are shipped in flats of eight or 16. The label reads in part, "Heritage Premier - Autumn Monkshood-Perennial - Aconitum carmichaelii 'Arendsii'. This late flowering selection has incredible, tall spikes of deep violet-blue, hooded flowers. Attractive dark green glossy foliage..." Distribution started on March 4, 2001, and the first plants had been received by accounts in mid-April. Approximately 1,500 plants are believed to have been sold so far.

There are no known illnesses or injuries at this time.

Valleybrook Gardens has called all of its accounts and notified them of the situation, and asked them to pull the incorrect labels.

If any part of this plant has been ingested, FDA urges consumers to seek immediate medical attention. Concerned consumers with questions may call Valleybrook Gardens Ltd. at 604/855-1177, extension 111.

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